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Medical access rules slammed

New government rules that will allow ministers to access confidential medical data have been called into question by health...

New government rules that will allow ministers to access confidential medical data have been called into question by health service professionals.

Mike Simons

Health minister Alan Milburn will next week ask Parliament for powers to give confidential medical records to third parties, even if the patient and their clinician object.

The proposals, in Clause 59 of the Health and Social Care Bill, will go before Parliament next week. They illustrate the data protection and human rights issues that are facing the health service as it moves towards electronic patient records and transmission of data through NHSNet.

A core principle of the Government's NHS IT plan is the protection of patient confidentiality, but the new proposals make a mockery of this, said Fleur Fisher, expert in medical ethics and chairwoman of the British Medical Association's Foundation for Aids. "What they are doing is completely unacceptable," she said.

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